By Claire Ottaviano
SEVEN days to the hour since the start of a fire that razed 86 homes, impacted Gidgegannup and Wooroloo residents stood together to start the recovery process.
The fire started in Wooroloo on Monday, February 1 and by the end of the week had burned 11,000ha with a monster 150km perimeter reaching as far as the boundary of Ellenbrook and The Vines.
Of the 86 properties confirmed lost, seven are in the Shire of Mundaring with the remainder in Gidgegannup in the City of Swan.
It is estimated 200 properties within 100m of the fire scar were saved.
Last Monday, as the heavens opened and the rain fell, the stark change in weather from the week before was not lost on about 200 residents and dozens of support personnel gathered at the newly opened Community Bushfire Recovery Centre at Percy Cullen Oval.
“Last week it was stinking hot and burning and now it’s pouring with rain,” Swan Mayor Kevin Bailey said.
“This event is the single biggest event in the City of Swan’s history by a long, long way.
“While we plan and think about how we will handle a catastrophic event like this you never really know until it comes along.”
A State Recovery Coordination Group has been set-up under the command of State Recovery Controller Ron Edwards to provide a localised and personalised response to those residents who have been impacted by the Wooroloo bushfires.
“We’re really focusing our efforts on recovery and getting you [attendees] back into your homes and working with the utilities to make sure we’ve got power, water, gas and those things ready as quickly as possible,” Dr Edwards said.
“Our job is to work with the State, agencies and local government and the Commonwealth Government to get things to you as quickly as possible.
“The message from me to you is, we want you to come forward with your issues and problems, we want to hear what your concerns are so we can do something about it.
“Don’t remain quiet and suffer because you’ve suffered enough already.”
Support services, such as the Salvation Army WA, Department of Communities, Centrelink, Red Cross, RAC, Western Power, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency, Minderoo Foundation, City of Swan and Shire of Mundaring would be available at the recovery centre as long as there is a need.
Shire president John Daw said the initial focus would be on those who lost homes.
“There will also be planning undertaken to help our community and the environment recover over the longer term,” he said.
“I have declared an emergency arising from the Wooroloo fire for the Shire of Mundaring, and this will allow us to act quickly by authorising unbudgeted expenditure to be directed where it is needed most, such as distribution and acquittal of State Government relief payments and to expedite the clean-up.”
Staff are helping those who have lost homes to apply for the $25,000 rapid response grants from The Lord Mayor’s Distress Relief Fund which has so far raised $7,700,000.